Does Brunch Suck? We Break Down Your Favorite Meal.
Because brunch is such a hot topic, a certain mall store is considering making T-shirts about it marketed towards tweens, we asked our senior writer Dave Infante and McSweeney’s/Funny or Die/Amherst's second-leading shot blocker in women’s basketball history Sarah Walker to passionately pontificate on the finer points of that special weekend-only replacement meal for breakfast and lunch.
Behold their wisdom on topics ranging from proper attire to that really annoying song about drugs and morning dranks:
Should you wait for a table
Dave: You know that one classic spot in your hometown or vacation town or college town? The one where people line up FOR HOURS, but everyone's happy because the brunch is SO WORTH IT? Yeah, that place is not worth it. Neither is the other place you love. In fact, I've crunched the numbers*, and I can confidently state that there's not an eggs Benedict on this green Earth that's tasty enough to merit a two-hour delay between "putting your name in" and putting your eggs in... to your mouth.
I wouldn't make a convict wait in line for brunch. It is senseless, cruel, and totally counterintuitive. Do I brunch because I'm hungover? Or am I hungover because I brunch? While you're chewing on that, chew on this: a hangover is definitely involved either way, and after a long night of boozing, the last thing I want to do is mill around on a sidewalk full of strangers and not-eat.
"If the brunch draws a big crowd, it must be popular," you retort. Well, fine. But you know what else is popular? Walmart. Basketball Wives. Wearing your cellphone on a belt holster. Nickelback, statistically speaking. Popular does not a good brunch make.
Wake up, you mouth-breathing hordes. No matter how delicious the brioche French toast is, nor how many likes you tally of it on Instagram (#uhmaze), it'll never outstrip the misery you suffered through just for the privilege of eating it. We may not agree on much, Walker, but you've gotta capitulate here: brunch-waiting sucks.
*I have not crunched the numbers.
Sarah: No need to capitulate, I’m already there. The only people who had a reason to wait in line for food were those in Communist Russia. They HAD to. We have no excuse. None! There’s always more than one brunch game in town, go to the one where you don’t have to wait in line for two hours. Unless you don’t enjoy happiness and doing things easily.
When I walk by a long line of people waiting for brunch, I don’t assume it’s because the food is fantastic. I assume that the people waiting are the type who had a single glass of red wine the night before because they read that it was good for their heart. Then they woke up at 6am in their breezy, sun-drenched apartment, so they could ride their bike to yoga. Maybe followed by a light jog. They’ve also read the entire newspaper, had a healthy snack of fruit and yogurt, and only then thought that standing in line for two hours would be a good way to meet new people! This is the type of person I both admire and loathe and someone who I will never be. I need brunch now. Not in half an hour, not in 10 minutes, now. It's an emergency situation and if we could IV the Bloody Mary into my veins, so much the better.
What you should drink
Dave: Coffee, obviously. An espresso drink if you must, but you almost never must, and this isn't Starbucks, so... grow up. If you order juice without alcohol in it, you're either my Father -- DAD? IS IT YOU? -- or just a maniac who isn't blood-related. Which brings us to le booze, which means "the booze" in French, probably. Though I'll defend its existence to the very death, I think bottomless brunch is for mouth-breathing morons and post-frat "account management specialists." In a recent study I conducted in my head just now, 10 out of 10 brunch spots confirmed that they water-down those pitchers of mimosas, Bellinis, and Bloodies. Avoid drinking the from-concentrate and order a la carte. Or just get a beer. Rosé is a total power move, especially for men, and should never be underestimated.
Sarah: I don’t know, man. I think the bottomless brunch, when done right, is a fun deal to be had. I agree that most people who frequent it are just... so annoying. And they don’t get any less annoying when they’re hammered. However, there are unicorns of places that are both chill and offer the deal, and everyone in there is like “be cool.” At these wondrous places I have personally witnessed the pitchers of mimosas being made, and they just dump a whole bottle of Champagne in and then some OJ. It’s not rocket science; it’s great science. Also, what are we even talking about? Get a damn Bloody Mary. It’s vitamins, it’s booze, it’s snacks. Why are you f*cking with anything else? It's the perfect drink. Also I'm trying to get people to call a Bloody Mary, when drunk at night, a "Sailor's Delight" so if you could do that I'd really appreciate it.
Egg dishes vs. lunch dishes
Sarah: Personally, I don’t see the point of getting a lunch dish at brunch. To me, brunch is not equal parts breakfast and lunch, or even more parts lunch than breakfast as the distribution of the name ("br-", vs. "-unch") or time of day might imply. It’s an excuse to eat a late breakfast. That’s it. A decadent breakfast with booze and more meat than usual. Why would you waste this on a sandwich that doesn’t contain an egg?
You can have lunch five days a week. Brunch is a special occasion for the celebration of the weekend, and rules are bent so that having many eggs in the afternoon isn’t the mark of a weirdo, as it would be on a Tuesday or Wednesday. I mean, can you imagine going out with your co-workers for a weekday lunch and ordering an egg dish? You’d be fired on the spot for being some sort of deviant! But weekend brunches are when we can let our food freak flags fly. Why squander that opportunity?
Dave: Not to get too personal, but you're slightly off-base here. Eggs Benny and Florey and Norw...y (?) are all top-notch moves for the morning after. But brunch's beauty isn't about breakfast; it's about freedom. As in, "ALL the spinach frittatas wouldn't make a damn dent in this vicious Rosé-ngover. Thank heavens I have the freedom to order a pork belly burger right now." If I'm sitting at brunch, I'm either about to make a bunch of bad decisions, or I've already made them. But I won't be ham-stringed into ordering Mr. Omelet or his eggy, insubstantial brethren. I want real food to sustain real drinking, nahmean?
On a philosophical note, I associate breakfast food with breakfast. I associate breakfast with waking up. And I hate waking up. So, yeah: I just used the transitive property to debunk your pro-brekkie bigotry.
Soundtrack: Jazz? DJ? Jazz DJ?
Dave: My opinion is hopelessly biased here, because I don't really like music in general. Mostly, this is because it hinders my ability to talk to people, and when I can't hear the melodious sound of my own voice, I'm crippled by my staggering narcissism. I know, I know: I'm a catch.
Nevertheless, I'll share my thoughts: brunch tune-age sucks. It somehow manages, note-for-note, to out-perform all other musical genres in the "Stuff That I Hate & Is Terrible" category, and it generally falls into two camps. There's live jazz, which is an invitation for heinous bougie-monsters to swirl their mimosas and talk about how much The Soloist "inspired" them. There's also a "DJ-curated" playlist, which is an iron-clad guarantee that you're going to hear an Armin van Buuren remix of an Of Monsters and Men song. Go ahead and Spotify that while I punch myself in the throat.
Actually, I guess there's a third category of brunch music, too: a live DJ curating a playlist. This is truly the trifecta of aural garbage.
Sarah: I agree, Infante. You are a catch! I also agree that the two scariest words in the English language are “jazz brunch.” Once I thought my nearly deaf (not Mos Def) Grandmother would enjoy a jazz brunch (because she grew up in the '40s!) in what was essentially an echo chamber of a marble restaurant where we were seated directly next to a pinstripe-suited jazz trio. I was cut out of the will.
In my younger, stupider days, I would frequent a New Zealand restaurant that was on the forefront of the “set price, unlimited drinks at brunch” trend (New Zealand: cutting edge since second breakfast) that would play some sort of EDM/house music at perplexingly loud levels, which was a large reason why that place turned into a dance party at like 1pm every day. Which, of course, is a nightmare. Mistakes were made, guys. And I have the pictures to prove it.
Point being, soothing music of the indie rock or oldies persuasion played at low levels is the order of the day for brunch, where you can assume that 60 to 80 percent of the clientele are hungover. Oh, and on that note, children ages 0-12 should be banned from brunch. They are the worst kind of music.
Dress code: ladies
Sarah: It has recently come to my attention that the fashion trend of the “boyfriend jean” (baggy, ripped Levi’s that presumably you borrowed from your boyfriend) is something that, ironically, boyfriends do NOT like. At all. “But I look so cozy and relaxed,” you might argue. However, “cozy and relaxed” are not adjectives that men gravitate to when it comes to women’s fashion. Think more “painted on hot pant” and “classy nip slip.”
Therefore, when you go to brunch in your coziest tracksuit, don’t expect to look good for your last night’s hookup (I mean, the fact that you’re going to brunch with them after your antics the night before is impressive, but this could really be a deal breaker), boyfriend, potential hook-ups at the nightmare New Zealand restaurant, or anyone except your bestie who’s all, “OMG those jeans make you look so skinny because they’re three sizes too big, I love them.” That’s why she’s your best friend.
Dave: #NotAllMen, Walker. HOW DARE YOU MAKE SUCH ASSUMPTIONS?
(Just kidding. It's all pretty much true. I wish I had some worldly, non-heteronormative rebuttal handy for your libelous points about paint-pants & almost-aureolas, but I don't, because brunching straight men are a monolith full of base instinct and French toast, one for which I definitely have the authority to speak. Brunch is the myopic high school hallway of meals. Superficiality reigns. I'm sorry, @Jezebel -- the game is the game.)
Dress code: fellas
Dave: That's not to spare my fellow bros a critical eye, though. The way most dudes "dress down" to "post up" at brunch, you'd think Brody Jenner & Megan Fox conceived the entire gender beneath a Hollister sale rack to the sweet melodies of an Iggy Azalea song. In other words: poorly. Backwards hats, aviators, deep V-necks, #menswear bracelets... the sartorial sins are innumerable. This isn't an O.A.R. concert, you guys -- it's a meal. Well, that, and an embarrassment.
Sarah: I guess despite my disdain of the deep V (unless you can, like, totally pull it off) my only problem with guy brunch apparel is aviators inside. We get it. You're hungover. We all are. You don't have to brag about it, Maverick. But on that same note, we're all hungover, and I would not be one to hold anyone to literally any standard. Just don't, like, throw up on me.
Sarah: Scan the room. Are there any babies or children there? Get. The F*ck. Out. End of story.
Is there a long table of girls in some combination of ballet flats/skinny jeans/sundresses drinking mimosas and/or Rosé, talking over each other and laughing loudly at the same time in five-second intervals? RUN. Do not look back.
Is there a surly hipster bartender who looks more hungover than you are? Better not risk it. He will not get you your artisanal Bloody at a quick enough speed. And he'll be silently mocking you. Not like he wouldn't already.
Dave: I'm sure you already follow me on Twitter, Walker, so this is old news to you. But once, not so long ago, I had a thought about parents who drag their darling brood to brunch. I think it's worth sharing here.
COME AT ME, NEW PARENTS! YOU KNOW WHAT? COME AT BOTH OF US! WE ARE A UNITED FRONT OF BELLINI-LOVING, BABY-HATING, GENERALLY APATHETIC YUPPIES, AND YOUR SCREAMING HELLSPAWN IS NOT WELCOME HERE.
Now that we're all on the same page:
I totally disagree about the long table of ladies. Not because I'm a lecherous creep, but because that's your best shot at live entertainment now that we've acknowledged the definitive sucker of the jazz brunch. A big group of Rosé-drenched women -- especially single women, especially-especially single white women -- is like the Serengeti watering hole of brunch. This is law-of-the-jungle sh*t, so hope for (or even, request) a table with good sightlines. Once they've stopped Instagramming everything in the vicinity, they are going to turn on each other. You'll want to establish a radius outside cocktail-tossing range, in case things get too real.
Also, any dude in a suit who is neither a) clearly coming from church; b) headed to a wedding; or c) Mr. Big from Seasons 1-2 and 3-5 of Sex and the City, is the worst.
Sarah: You can do one of two things after brunch: nap, or keep drinking. If you’re living out Infante’s fantasy, and you’ve infiltrated the table of women in skinny jeans and ballet flats, you can all proceed to the local wine bar where you can learn about how amazing Soul Cycle is. If you’re like me, your temporary Bloody-induced bounce will come crashing down, and you’ll need a two to three-hour nap. Both of these scenarios end with a heavy dose of shame.
Dave: God help each and every one of you who's been cursed with the burden of living out my fantasies. Get ready for James Caan, Scout Willis, and a boatload of hummus. BUT I DIGRESS.
There's actually a third option for your post-brunch maneuvering: "Have a productive afternoon because you limited your alcohol intake like an adult. Maybe head to the park, or get some chores done? Man, it's nice to have this free time, right?" Of course, this is the biggest fantasy of them all. On Saturdays, you go to that bar, drink that white wine spritzer, and learn about that intense #soulcycle instructor. On Sundays, you get the HELL back to home base, wheretofore you'll begin step #5 of the day-drinking guide if you know what's good with you. Hold the shame, bring on 12 episodes of Shameless.
What about the song "Doses & Mimosas"?
Walker: Ugh. White people.
Infante: God, I hate myself.
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Sarah Walker writes for McSweeney's and MTV's Awkward. She's brunched extensively on both coasts, and owns SEVERAL stackable rings. Follow her at @swalks.